Lena Dunham Is The First Woman To Be TIME’s ‘Coolest Person Of The Year’
2:15 pm, December 21st | by Meredith Lepore
Could Lena Dunham’s year get any better? I mean first Girls, a cultural game changer and national conversation piece. Then came the Emmy nominations. Then the clever Obama campaign video. A Glamour Woman of the Year award, the $3 million book deal, making our list of the 50 women of the year (we’re sure that was the one she was the most excited about) and now TIME has named her the ‘Coolest Person of 2012.’ It’s not quite a big deal as being TIME’s Person of the Year but it is definitely better than being on the Worst/Best Dressed List, one of People’s Most Beautiful People, one of Cosmo’s 100 Hottest Bachelors, People’s Sexiest Man of the Year OR Maxim’s Hottest Woman of the Year.
Joel Stein, who selected her, wrote in TIME:
“The 2012 Coolest Person of the Year is a woman who was unafraid to showcase her flaws. A woman who wore less makeup on TV than in real life and purposely shot herself naked in more unflattering ways than a blackmailer would. A woman whose entire persona is based on doing the wrong thing yet who reportedly got a $3.7 million advance for an advice book. A woman who made an Obama campaign video centering on a double entendre about losing her virginity to the President. A woman who was nominated for four Emmys and, far cooler, zero People’s Choice Awards. A woman who responded to 2010 Coolest Person James Franco’s harsh Huffington Post essay criticizing Girls, the HBO show she created and stars in, by saying she’s a big James Franco fan.”
Her achievements are impressive but it is her responses to criticism that have set her apart. Back before Girls even aired, when Two And A Half Men co-creator Lee Aronsohn said, “Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods … we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation,” Lena Dunham responded brilliantly:
“It’s such an assholic thing to say. It’s so dickish … I think Sarah Silverman had a quote where she was like, “Sometimes with an old guy with misogyny you’re just like, ‘You cute old guy. You misogynist.’” I almost feel like that man is holding on desperately to a world that no longer exists … I felt especially bad for him because it’s not even a funny joke. If you had a good quip, I’d be like, “Well, you’re a dick, but at least you’re a good comedy writer.” But with that, I was like, “Come on, dude. ‘Labia saturation point’?” It’s also so dumb. There’s three shows on TV about women, so I guess we really reached our limit. It’s not like three-quarters of the world is comprised of women, you idiot.
I almost wanted to do a tweet, but I didn’t do it: “Since we’ve reached our labia saturation point on television, I’ve decided not to release Girls.” Like, “HBO’s behind me on this decision and we’re so sorry for anybody we’re disappointing, but we really can’t over-vagina the TV.” Lee has spoken.”
It was also especially cool when accepting her Glamour award that she said a few seconds into her speech, ““I have to take my shoes off you guys, I’m so sorry.” The audience couldn’t help but cheer (and secretly wished they could do the same.) She has a “refreshing breed of confidence and humility,” says Rebecca Adams of The Huffington Post. During her speech she also said, “I mess up and I fall down and I tweet dumb sh*t and I forget my Spanx…”
It is that mix of confidence and humility that allows her to create such complex female characters. “I don’t always like myself, and I don’t always like the people that I love, and I don’t understand why I have to like the people on TV,” Lena said.
Lena asked Joel when she won if it was bad to be generally excited about this, to which he replied:
“Yes, Lena, you will. But you will do it anyway, on Twitter and hopefully in an even larger public forum, like Letterman or a magazine cover profile. Because — just like the many other women who have been considered not funny enough, not tough enough, not Supreme Court–y enough, not Augustay enough or not capable of following the complicated no-turn-on-red laws of Saudi Arabia enough — you have broken a barrier. And the only way you can help more women do the same is to keep talking about this honor and, more important, the cool guy who bestowed it upon you.”
[Photo: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.com]